Plotting the arc of darkness with Joss Whedon



Here’s a link to my interview with Joss Whedon for Radio 3’s Night Waves on June 12th. We covered his writing for Roseanne, Shakespearean superheroes, his love of musicals — especially Brigadoon —  the way studios treat writers, (take Firefly and Futurama) even ones with proven track records, the development of series plot arcs and his fascination with darkness and mirrored relationships that applies from Buffy and Angel to the dynamics in Much Ado About Nothing. The portrayal of Claudio — the most sympathetic I’ve ever seen — is no surprise if you’ve seen how he handled the coming of age traumas in Angel and Buffy.

Fran Kranz as Whedon's fratboy Claudio

Fran Kranz as Whedon’s fratboy Claudio

Incidentally, though he says he hated being at the exclusive public school, Winchester, he says he loved it too, and was very aware of the quality of learning. An interesting observation in the current debate in Britain about aspiration and the importance of being stretched.  All that genre-bending, existential self awareness comes back to the teenage Whedon repeatedly watching Close Encounters of the Third Kind in halfterm and on telling a friend on his return to school, being immediately given some Sartre to read.

A couple of things that did get lost in the edit is examples of his father’s sitcoms: In the section where Whedon talks about his father’s script writing, you’ll hear him say that he felt what his father worked on was nowhere near as good or funny as the things his father said. But not  the examples we discussed. The Golden Girls he admitted was highly acclaimed, but Whedon mentioned shows such as Benson as examples of sitcoms that he felt didn’t really impress. Throughout I got a sense of his drive to fight dilution and blandness; to take the format somewhere more challenging. It’s an attitude which is at the heart of his work. And his withering feminst critique of Twilight and the post-Buffy Hollywood Vampire is  a particular highlight.  Listen here

About samiraahmed

Journalist. Writer. Broadcaster.
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